Two Fridays ago, Mark, Ivan, Alex “Scribs”, and I made another trip up to the Gunks. We gathered in the morning around the corner from Ivan’s apartment on the Upper West Side. It was a grey morning, and though the weather forecast had made claims of sun, it certainly didn’t feel that way. Half way up the drive we encountered this:
Ivan called up our friend Andy who lives in New Paltz, and he confirmed that it was raining up there. Bummer. We continued driving, and as we approached Exit 18 for the Gunks, the rain kept coming down. However, above the cliff line we could see that there was a slash of blue. When we arrived at the cliff, we had this wonderful welcome:
The conditions were unbelievable! Bone dry, sun, and only 50 degrees, we were psyched. This is why I suggest not turning back when poor weather occurs on the drive, in particular in the Gunks. Often climbing areas lie in different altitudes from the road, or they can be their own micro-climate with completely seperate weather.
We all mosied down the carriage path to go warm up. Scribs, Mark, and myself tootled down to the boxcar to warm up. Ivan dropped his things off at the Andrew Roof, and scurried up the talus to brush his project next to Euphoria. The three of us climbed all of the cool easy climbs at box car then made a brief detour at the Marrakesh Boulder. Our warm up was continued on the wonderful, yet unnamed “Unnamed Marrakesh Problem #2” V2. This a great tall boulder problem, on nice large holds, with a mantel to top it off.
It was back to Andrew Roof. We laid out the pads, still psyched on the luck of the weather, and began to climb on The Buddha V6, and its myriad of variations. Recently Scribs had sent The Buddha and was keen to work on the variation “The Illustrious Buddha” which I’m sure you’ve never seen pictures of before. Scribs had some excellent goes, but alas, would have to come back another day to put it in the sack. Mark, however, did throw down “The Buddha”, “The Illustrious Buddha”, and “Enlightened Buddha”. What a beast.
So up the hill we went and got our pads set up for Ivan’s project. Unfortunately we don’t have any good photos from this session, but let me tell you, this thing is heinous. An overhanging wall of 20-30 degrees, with an abysmal left hand crimp, and jingus tweaker of a pinch for the right hand. You then use your legs to push off of an incredibly poor foot, so that your left hand can travel five feet to a sloping lip. This climb is going to be so gnar when it goes. Ivan was the only one making any headway, slapping the lip and falling off. What a beast.
After this, I wanted to go a boulder just a few yards away named “Is”. It’s a really nice V8, on great rock. The problem revolves around on big throw to a sloper off of two crimps, with poor feet. I’d never tried it before and dispatched it in two goes. Doing a new boulder problem everytime I go out is one of my goals, whether it’s easy or hard, I just love shralping on new rock. So I was quite psyched.
Afterward Mark and I made the short walk over to Venus in Scorpio. Venus is a personal favorite of mine, and I was excited for Mark to give it a go. He’d tried it a few times before, and complained of the thrutchy moves on the bottom. After I revealed to him a secret, ninja toe hook, he was gliding through the lower section like smooth butter. Unfortunately, he’d been such a beast doing variations on The Buddha, that he was unable to wrap the climb up, and fell on the last move (twice!).
We’d spent some time at Venus, and wondered to ourselves what Ivan and Scribs were up to. As we made our way down the hill we heard yelling, and saw this:
You may ask yourself what is this? This is Big Death. I think many climbers have walked down the carriage path, looked at this very tall obvious fin, and thought “Someone should climb that.” Now someone has. It is big, it is long, and the top out is not as easy as you’d like it to be. Watching Ivan climb this line was awesome, and a perfect close to our day out. Hats off sir!
–Garrett Koeppicus, Gentleman & Scholar
P.S. Last weekend Vadim sent the low start to Waiting for the Messiah in the Near Trapps. The Gunks has a new hard hitting double digit boulder problem.
P.S.S. Keep your eyes on the blog. Next week there’ll be double updates about our recent excursions projecting on our home ground of Central Park.